www.whyville.net Mar 30, 2008 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Day of Silence

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The Day of Silence is a national youth movement to protest the bullying and harassment that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students face every day. As the name suggests, this is a day where students around the country do not speak for all or part of the day. This year, the Day of Silence will be held on April 25th.

Students participating in the Day of Silence often wear black and do not speak during classes, breaks, passing periods, or lunch. It is recommended that students talk to their teachers in advance to obtain permission to participate in the Day of Silence. Some teachers do not want students to remain silent during classes, and it is encouraged that students follow their teachers' wishes. Students who wish to support the Day of Silence but cannot remain silent for any reason often also wear black, or wear buttons that say "Supporter of the Day of Silence" or "Supporter of LGBT rights".

Often times students will carry cards, or wear Day of Silence t-shirts, that explain their reasons for not talking. As of 2007, the "speaking cards" and shirts read: Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I am participating in the Day of Silence, a national youth movement protesting the silence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their allies. My deliberate silence echoes that silence, which is caused by harassment, prejudice, and discrimination. I believe that ending the silence is the first step toward fighting these injustices. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What are you going to do to end the silence?

The Day of Silence was started in 1996, by students at the University of Virginia. The next year, it was recognized nationally, and almost 100 colleges and universities participated. The event has grown so much that more than 500,000 students nationally at nearly 4,000 schools, colleges, and universities have participated in past years. These numbers make the Day of Silence one of the largest youth protests in the United States.

The Day of Silence is traditionally followed by a "Night of Noise" in which students participating in the Day of Silence gather together, and are released from their vow of silence. Some schools hold dances or an after school event, while some students simply have a small gathering with friends. Many students wear bright and colorful clothing to the Night of Noise. The purpose of the Night of Noise is to connect with other students who participated in the Day of Silence, to talk about your experiences from that day, and to have fun.

I myself have participated in the Day of Silence, and found it to be a positive and educational experience. It is a great way to spread awareness about LGBT rights, and all of my teachers were extremely understanding of my friends' and my choice of silence that day. However, you do have to be prepared to handle negative comments or attitudes of others. It is important to stay calm, and remember to be accepting of everyone's viewpoints.

If you are interested in participating in the Day of Silence, I encourage you to talk to your teachers or school administrator. Elementary schools through colleges have participated in the Day of Silence. Even if your school does not participate, you can still ask your teachers for permission to remain silent that day. If you are a supporter of LGBT rights, I strongly suggest that you participate in this incredible event. For more information about the Day of Silence, visit DayofSilence.org.


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